How to deal With a Micromanager at Work

Chances are you have a micromanager. The kind of person who comes lurking over your shoulders to lay their eyes on your computer screen. There you have it, the dreaded micromanager. Characteristics of a micromanager include a person who is so incredibly interested in what you’re doing, you’re not even sure they have the time to complete their own tasks.

It’s like they’ve been hired to keep tabs on every last thing you’re doing at work! Don’t fret too much though, as there are plenty of ways to handle a micromanager. But let’s cover the basics…

What is a micromanager?

A micromanager doesn’t have to be your direct superior. The characteristics of micromanager lay in the definition of micromanagement. It is basically someone who can’t see the forest is made of trees.

He/she has lost touch with the bigger picture, and is committed to ensuring that every second of your time is well-managed, for “the company’s sake.” What the micromanager is doing, though, is forsaking the company.

They are developing a toxic environment, where you feel like you can’t even breath. Your work is left feeling too heavily surveilled, even rushed (just to get them off your back), and now your status at your company might be in jeopardy because someone was too interested in your own work they didn’t do theirs.

Make sure you’re not the problem

A little self-examination never hurt anybody, and before you go blaming your co-worker or boss, you need to make sure that you don’t deserve to be micromanaged. Basically, you’ll want to do a performance review on your own work to make sure that you’re not the one in the wrong. Being able to cope with a micromanager does begin with you, so you want to make sure that you’re: completing tasks on time, to the best of your ability, and keeping the interests of the company at the forefront of your mind. Micromanagers may prey on everyone, but they’re especially keen on those who deserve to be micromanaged. Ensure that you’re not the problem so that you can start being the solution.

Outline expectations clearly

If you’re dealing with someone who is exhibiting the conditions of a micromanager, you will want to stop them right at the source. Ask this person to define their expectations for your working relationship.

Every company has goals, and chances are your role in the company has specific goals unto itself. Coping with a micromanager is all about outlining these goals, working towards actionable tasks, and then accomplishing those goals with those tasks.

Keeping a micromanager at arm’s length starts with defining clear goals that get them to leave you alone. If they start by defining their expectations of you, then it gives you a chance to point to this expectations when things are getting out of hand.

Have them define the bigger picture

The last thing you want to do is get into a confrontation with someone who is micromanaging you at your job. This won’t help your professional reputation at the company, and might even wind up with you getting fired.

What you want to do is perform a little bit of mental kung-fu and switch the micromanagement on its head. Ask your manager/co-worker about the bigger picture and what they are working towards. You’ve already defined your goals, so help them define theirs.

Asking them to define the bigger picture is a way for them to talk about their role, their tasks, and hopefully, will inspire them to get back to work.

This is the perfect trick to get a micromanager of your back because you’re getting them to verbalize the larger tasks that are being asked of them.

Chances are that the micromanager in your life will scurry off, forgetting about all the work they should be handling.

Be proactive, establish trust

The best way to keep folks exhibiting characteristics of a micromanager at bay is to stay one step ahead of the game. This means being proactive and completing tasks ahead of time.

When the micromanager in your life asks you if you’ve completed an inane task, or considered some random angle, make sure that you have and that you have an opinion/insight to back it up.


This will showcase to your micromanager that you know what you’re doing, it will establish trust, and encourage them to take a step back. They won’t need to ask any questions since you’ll already have all of the answers!

These are the best ways to keep the micromanager in your life at bay. The main thing that you need to keep in mind is that they also have a job to do. Also, their job has a direct influence on your ability to do yours.

Make sure that you maintain a high level of respect and professionalism when it comes to handling a micromanager. Once you’ve implemented these strategies, though, you should be left to your own devices to succeed at work. Most important at all, this is the perfect example for you of what not to do when you’re trying to hold other people accountable!

Share on:

Brian is a founding writer at Urban Kenyans. His work is focused on how to improve the digital literacy of Kenyans online. He has been able to do so with his mastery of Kenya and the English Language.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.